The 2016 Oscar nominations were, as always, full of surprises, but one of the most unexpected moments was hearing the name of the film The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared read aloud alongside Mad Max: Fury Road and The Revenant. Compared to its flashier fellow nominees, the movie, which up is up for Best Makeup and Hairstyling, is little-known, to say the least. So: What is The 100-Year-Old Man …?
It’s an irreverent Swedish comedy directed by Felix Herngren about an elderly man living in a nursing home who resolves to escape on his 100th birthday. It’s also one of the highest-grossing Swedish movies in the country’s history, rivaled only by the country’s Dragon Tattoo films. The titular 100-year-old man is Allan Karlsson (played by Robert Gustafsson), and once he escapes through that window he finds himself on an intrepid, absurd journey that, above all, has attracted a lot of Forrest Gump comparisons from critics. Also, there’s an elephant named Sonya.
The movie is an adaptation of the 2012 best-selling novel of the same title by Jonas Jonasson. It was released domestically in Sweden in 2013, but took its time in arriving stateside. Variety praised the movie in its review as “a welcome arthouse counter-programmer for those wary of heavier foreign imports.”
Prosthetic makeup often treads a fine line between impressive and cheesy. (Remember The Hours?) But the makeup team on The 100-Year-Old Man has been lauded for its convincing work in aging the 51-year-old Gustafsson to almost twice his actual age. Praise has also been given for the movie’s “fun” use of makeup to transform actors chosen to portray historical figures including Francisco Franco, Josef Stalin, and Harry S. Truman. Still, not all the assessments of the makeup have been positive:Variety also noted that, under all that makeup, Gustafsson is “[r]endered virtually inexpressive.”